“It is my biggest dream to become a physician."

Leah Drost is an award-winning co-op student, published medical researcher, and community volunteer. She hopes to become a physician and dedicate her career to helping others.

Leah“I hope to eventually work for an organization like Doctors Without Borders,” she says. “I would love to end up back in my hometown of Thunder Bay, helping to [improve] the poor access to healthcare that many Northern communities face.”

Leah’s career in the medical field is already off to a great start. In 2017 she was named a Co-op Student of the Year for her work at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, where she researched post-surgery radiotherapy for cancer that spread to the bone. The study was published in the medical journal Radiology and Oncology. She also worked directly with patients at Sunnybrook, and she truly enjoyed these clinical interactions.

During academic terms, Leah continued to help others by volunteering with a variety of groups and organizations. She has been heavily involved with on-campus mentorship organizations, joined student clubs, and held student leadership roles in Waterloo residence. Plus, she volunteered off campus.

“I love getting involved in my community, both with on-campus opportunities and in the wider Kitchener-Waterloo area,” she says. “I have held several volunteer roles in the community, working primarily with children and families in the downtown Kitchener area.”

Given her passion for helping others, Leah is a fitting first recipient of the Dr. Stanley F. Leavine Scholarship, an award that memorializes the prominent public servant and local physician. In many ways, she emulates Dr. Leavine’s dedication to his community.

Dr. Stanley F. LeavineDr. Leavine spent much of his life in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. He served on the Kitchener Board of Health and the K-W Hospital Commission, and he was President of the North Waterloo Academy of Medicine. Later in his career, he entered city council, and held multiple roles in our local government, including Mayor of Kitchener. Dr. Leavine was also a strong supporter in the University of Waterloo’s earliest days, as a founding member of our Board of Governors.

His daughter, Dr. Desta Leavine, created the memorial scholarship, which is given to third- or fourth-year undergraduate students pursuing a medical career. It was important that recipients have an interest in a medical career, like her father did.

When asked why she created the award, she simply answered, “Why not?”

Her father was very interested in education. Given his strong ties to Waterloo and the greater community, the award serves as a reminder of his public service.


I cannot fully express how deeply grateful I am for receiving this award. It truly gave me the courage and confidence to pursue my dreams...

Leah Drost, scholarship recipient

The significance of the award is not lost on Leah, and Desta’s gift is incredibly meaningful to her. The award lessened the burden of her tuition, living expenses and applications to medical school. Plus, Leah says that the award reminded her there is community supporting her – cheering her on.

“I cannot fully express how deeply grateful I am for receiving this award,” she says. “It truly gave me the courage and confidence to pursue my dreams, and it gave me the resources to help make those dreams a reality.”

Earlier this year, Leah’s dream of becoming a physician got one step closer. As of August 2019, she’s a medical student.